Monk seal pup to be relocated after weaning
The recently named Hawaiian monk seal pup, Pualani (previously known as PO5) will be relocated from Kaimana Beach in Waikīkī after she is weaned, according to NOAA. The pup was born to mother seal Kaʻiwi in mid-April.
NOAA Fisheries O‘ahu Marine Wildlife Response Coordinator Kilali Ala’ilima Gibson said the decision comes after careful assessment, in close coordination with state, county, and nonprofit partners. “We determined the best option for Pualani is to relocate her, especially given the risks of habituation in such a crowded area,” said Gibson in a state Department of Land and Natural Resources news release.
Gibson extended thanks to the community and partners for their efforts to protect the endangered Hawaiian monk seals on Kaimana beach. “Together, we’ve created a safe nursery for mom and pup, and we look forward to the next phase of monitoring them as they transition out of their nursing phase and into independent seals,” said Gibson.
DLNR reports that all the agencies involved are currently making plans for Pualani’s safe removal from the busy beach.
Volunteers and staff from Hawai‘i Marine Animal Response (HMAR), City and County of Honolulu lifeguards, and officers from the DLNR Division of Conservation and Resources Enforcement (DOCARE) have been protecting the monk seal pair and ocean goers around the clock.
“Mother monk seals, like many wild animals, can be fiercely protective of their offspring,” according to DLNR.
Since officers began providing land and ocean overwatch at Kaimana Beach, only one person was cited over the past month according to DOCARE Chief Jason Redulla. “The expanded cordon (roped perimeter), the outreach efforts of HMAR and NOAA, and DOCARE’s presence have kept both the seals and people safe. Officers will continue their work on the beach and in the water until Pualani is safely relocated,” he said.
The multi-agency effort has expanded and been enhanced over the past six years, during which four monk seal pups have been born and weaned at KaimanaBeach.
Emily Greene, the HMAR Education and Engagement Manager said the operation has been smooth, thanks to dedicated volunteers, lifeguards, and DOCARE officers. “Regular users of Kaimana Beach and visitors have been respectful and genuinely interested in these monk seals and the species overall. While it takes a lot of resources, it does provide a wonderful opportunity to talk to people and teach them about this endangered species and why we put so much time and effort into protecting them,” said Greene.
The time and site of the relocation effort will not be announced in advance to provide safety and protection throughout the transition process, according to state officials.